Me: “Louis-Ville. Looey-Ville. Love-Ville…am I getting it right yet?”
Tour Guide: “Well, I like to tell people to pretend their mouth is full of marbles. More like Lou-Uh-Vull.”
Mouth full of marbles. I like that. So began my fabulous 48 hours in Louisville, Kentucky. I was delighted when I found out I had the opportunity to spend the weekend in what the locals call “Possibility City”. A southern girl at heart, I get a jolt every time I leave The Big Apple and head south of the Mason Dixon Line where the table wine is sweet tea and Mason Jars are always filled with daisies.
A weekend hardly felt like enough time to appreciate all this lovely city has to offer, but it sure was a much appreciated getaway where the pace of life is a little slower and the folks are a
little lot friendlier. Grab your Mint Julep, Derby hat, and sack of marbles, and enjoy the ride as I show you how to get the most out of your 48 hours in Louisville Lou-Uh-Vull.
Off To The Races 11am
While most of your exploration of Louisville can be down on foot, there are 3 stops you’ll want to either cab it or rent a car for, the first being Churchill Downs. The site of the famed Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs offers plenty of excitement all throughout the year. Pop into the Kentucky Derby Museum and take a look at the classic hats and couture worn (and also learn all you could ever want to learn about the Derby itself!) The museum offers a behind-the-scenes tour of the track which is a must-do…hearing the tour guide’s enthusiasm and passion for the Derby is enough to give you chills in the 100 degree Kentucky heat.
Party Eat On 1:30pm
Lynn’s Paradise Cafe is my childhood dream restaurant. Who am I kidding, it’s my adult dream restaurant! Filled with mis-matched chairs and tables, balloons floating overhead, and a table-top strewn with confetti, it’s the most festive environment I’ve ever had the pleasure of dining at. The staff is wonderful, and the food. Oh, the food. I started with a Derby Pie Milkshake, washed down with Greek Scramble, followed by French toast, and coming full circle by ending with a slice of Derby Pie. There is no question why the restaurant’s middle name is Paradise.
Paying Homage To The Colonel 3:30pm
Any true KFC fans will most definitely not want to miss a chance to swing by Cave Hill Cemetery (with a bucket of chicken, naturally) to pay homage to Colonel Harland Sanders. The cemetery itself is more like a park beckoning for a picnic…you’ll enjoy the lush green and Victorian-era graves, and lake filled with ducks, swans, and the occasional peacock.
Rest and Relaxation 5pm
Dubbed by Conde Nast Traveler Readers as the #1 hotel in the south, I absolutely loved 21C Museum Hotel. Loved as in I would have been perfectly content never leaving the hotel grounds for the entire 48 hours…but that wouldn’t make me a very good travel writer at all, now would it? The hotel is quirky, fun, and seems to have surprises at every turn. (Read my full review here.) After hopping in the tub with your yellow ducky, be sure to head down to the bar for a mandatory bourbon, and a phenomenal dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, Proof On Main. (Note, the rest of the trip can be done on foot, so no more need to call a cab.)
A Proper Southern Breakfast 10am
I had heard through the grapevine that Hillbilly Tea is a favorite spot among the locals, so you can bet I was up, dressed, and waiting at the door before the place even opened. (The New Yorker in me still hates waiting in lines, what can I say?) We were the first to be seated, but the place did fill up rather quickly. After tasting their biscuits and local honey, it’s easy to see why. The food is as good as the restaurant is cute.
River Cruise 12pm
The Belle of Louisville lunch cruise is a three hour tour you most definitely don’t want to miss (cue the Gilligan’s Island theme song!) The Ohio River is flanked on one side by Kentucky and the other Indiana, and plenty of mac-n-cheese and dancing right in the middle! For a comprehensive look at the Belle, check out my full review.
Louisville Slugger Museum 3pm
If you’re a baseball fan, The Louisville Slugger Museum is an obvious stop along the tour. But if you’re more like me (Jeter who??), it’s still a place of interest because of the factory tour. That’s right, you can get a walking tour of the inner-workings of the baseball bat factory which is actually really cool. Along with seeing bats cut and sanded and painted and glossed, you also get 30 minutes with a very entertaining tour guide. Make sure to pose outside for a photo with the World’s Biggest Baseball Bat.
Neighborhood Stroll 5pm
Spend the evening in NuLu (New Louisville…a nickname all us New Yorkers can relate to), perusing the funky antique stores, fantastic street art, sparkling new art galleries, and finding yourself at Garage Bar. A gas station turned bar, you won’t be able to miss the two crashed cars poised out front. Nor will you miss the adorable twinkle lights strung above the ping pong tables. Grab your Kentucky Bourbon or Rye Whisky and mingle with the locals.
Locally Grown Supper 8pm
Don’t leave Louisville without dining on the regionally inspired, seasonal cuisine from Harvest. The rustic restaurant is furnished with materials reclaimed from buildings around the city, and 80% of the food is locally sourced from farmers and growers within a 100 mile radius of Louisville. I’d recommend the Beer Cheese and Pretzel Bun to start, followed by the Herb Ricotta Gnocchi.
If You Go
Sleep in style and ultimate comfort at the 21C Museum Hotel. With over 9,000 square feet of exhibition space and chocolate delivered to your pillow every night with turn-down service, there’s simply nothing not to love. No matter how Louisville rolls off your tongue, marbles or no marbles, we promise you’ll love it here, too.
By: Jessica Tiare Bowen
A very special thank you to the wonderful folks at the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau!